Local News

Fitness Challenge Winner Credits Hard Work, Moral Support For Victory

Posted May 4, 2005

— Back in February, WRAL introduced you to five people taking a challenge to get fit. They did it the old-fashioned way -- working their bodies at a Raleigh gym. The competition is over, but for the winner, the work is not.

Three months ago, five people -- Jamie Woodlief, Joyce Bailey, Dewan Gates, Satbir Minhas and Phyllis Spencer -- started jumping, running and squatting to change their lives. They worked out three times a week for one hour in a friendly fitness challenge.

Now, the challenge is over and Phyllis Spencer stood above the rest. She said she came into the challenge with a goal of getting fit so she'd have the energy to run around with her 5-year-old nephew.

Spencer used to weigh 394 pounds, now she is 26½ pounds lighter and 13 inches smaller.

"I feel wonderful, great, full of energy. I'm just excited," she said.

That positive attitude is part of what put Spencer over the top.

"She would just come in and always have a smile on her face and was always willing to work," fitness director Maren Piefer said.

Spencer said moral support made all the difference.

"I've had family members call me from New York. I had them e-mail me from California. Friends are here from my classes," she said. "It's amazing. It really renewed my faith in people."

Piefer said while Spencer stood out, so did Dewan Gates. Earlier in the competition, Gates said he was going to win the competition "hands-down," but he basically handed it over to Spencer.

"Dewan told me the other night he thought she should win, so that kind of was like, 'OK, that's the go-ahead to go ahead and pick Phyllis," Piefer said.

Despite winning the competition, Spencer is still on a fitness mission.

"I don't want to sit in the house now. I want to go, go, go, go, go," she said.

Spencer won a free one-year membership to the gym that held the challenge, a $100 gift certificate to a sneaker store and much more. She said she will use the gym membership to lose even more weight.

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